For a while now I've been inspired by this video by an ad agency in London called Dentsu. It shows a rather cool usage of iPad's to lightpaint by extruding or dragging an animation through space on a long exposure.
This seemed too cool to pass up.
So how to make my own?
- I have no iPad
- I only use Sketchup as a free 3d software tool – no virtual cat scans as described in the Dentsu video
- Due to an unfortunate accident in a French hotel 3 years ago (reality of what happened is actually a lot more mundane than it sounds) my current very decent Nikon d90 is restricted to a 50mm f1.4 lens
None of the above was going to stop me though!
So step one was to design the 3d shape I wanted to light paint and I thought a great start would be my son's name, Benjamin. I used Google Sketchup to design what I thought would be a reasonable simple low resolution 3D representation of his name and it proved to be fairly easy to knock up. I knew though I wouldn't be able to 'convert' this into a 2d animation for the extrusion so it's purpose was to guide my in how I create the letters in Photoshop which would be the next step.
I then moved into Photoshop and after setting up an image size to match my iphone resolution I then started to draw the blocks necessary to pull out the letters. I worked on the principle that a single block would be 80 by 80 pixels and therefore the side of the letter B would be 400 pixels tall by 80 wide. Using each layer for a new section of a letter I built up the letters for the first part of my son's name, Ben.
Converting them into frames was fairly easy. The difficult part was selecting a video type which I could upload to my iPhone. My first method I tried was uploading the MP4 using email. Next time I try this I will try the VLC player app I have.
I soon discovered a couple of problems. Firstly I completely forgot to add a couple of extra frames to the beginning and end of the video to prevent the screen of the iphone from reappearing and secondly despite choosing what I thought were good settings for the video it still came out slightly squashed.
I decided to press ahead with shooting the animation a couple of times to see if I could get the letter extrusion to work. I used the side of my son's cot as a reference point as the slats would help me to perfect my timing in terms of dragging the phone through the air. Tweaking the settings on the camera gave me a usable result shooting 10s at f2 iso 200.
This is the best of the first attempts. You can make out an E and possibly the beginnings of an N. For a first attempt I was quite pleased with the result.
A couple of lessons to learn from this.
- I realised when watching the dentsu video again the frames for each part of a letter consisted of a wireframe rather than a block of white. This will be rectified.
- To simplify creating messages I will work on slowly building up an alphabet of prebuilt frames which can be dropped into order to create a word.
- This is fun!
till next time